If the IRS decides to audit a taxpayer, the first thing that usually happens is an audit letter is received in the mail. Some taxpayers may feel that an audit is a personal attack from the IRS, when the reality is their selection could be as simple as a computer pulling their number. When you get a notice from the IRS, experts advise taxpayers to take these steps:

  1. Keep calm and call a tax preparer. Many taxpayers come through audits without owing anything. So staying calm and keeping a positive outlook will help the situation. A good tax preparer will walk you through the questions, issues, and concerns regarding the IRS notice. A tax preparer can also inform you of all the information to gather that the IRS will need.   
  2. Read the letter thoroughly. The initial shock of getting a letter may prevent you from reading it clearly. Read it carefully and follow the instructions, paying particular attention to when the IRS expects a reply. Take the letter to meet with the tax preparer, who can determine the type of audit the IRS is planning to perform.  
  3. Gather paperwork. Typically, the letter will list specific items the IRS wants to review. Gather the paperwork and organize it. Find any cancelled checks, receipts and records that have been kept and have copies made to keep at home. Note what paperwork is missing and contact the appropriate people or businesses to get copies before the audit date. Also, don’t bring anything the auditors did not ask for specifically. Just stay focused on what they have asked for during the audit.   
  4. Practice the Golden Rule. First off, don’t ignore the letter altogether, that may cause more problems. Secondly, IRS auditors are not well respected but they’re simply doing their job. How refreshing would it be to work with someone who didn’t hold it against them? Remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.  
  5. Make sure it is the IRS. One type of tax scam comes in the form of phone scams where people posing as an IRS agent, even using fake names and badge numbers to try to convince the targeted taxpayers they owe taxes and need to send them money. The IRS clarifies that they will contact an individual through the mail and will not request personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers.    

If you received an IRS notification and need a tax preparer, use our office locator or call 1-866-871-1040 to find the office nearest you.

Disclaimer: Tax Lounge is an informational source for industry news and related topics. We take every effort to provide you with the most honest and accurate tax information, but this information should not be a substitute for professional tax advice. Use our office locator to find your local tax office or click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.